Thursday, August 10, 2023

#IReadsYou Review: NIGHT OF THE GHOUL #2

comiXology/Best Jacket Press

STORY: Scott Snyder
ART: Francesco Francavilla
COLORS: Francesco Francavilla
LETTERS: Andworld Design
EDITOR: Will Dennis
COVER: Francesco Francavilla
24pp, Colors, 3.99 U.S. (November 2021)

Age Rating: 15+

Night of the Ghoul co-created by Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla

Episode 02

Night of the Ghoul is a digital comic book miniseries created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Francesco Francavilla.  It is published by comiXology as part of its “comiXology Originals” line of digital comics.  This six-issue series will later be collected in trade paperback form by Dark Horse Comics.  Night of the Ghoul focuses on the dark conspiracy behind a lost horror film from 1936.

Night of the Ghoul finds film fanatic, Forest Innman, and his son, Orson, at an old folks home deep in the desert.  There, Forest meets one of the home's residents, Charles Patrick, who is really T.F. Merritt, a screenwriter and film director from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  In 1936, Merritt shot a a cursed horror film, “Night of the Ghoul,” that never made it to the silver screen.  A mysterious studio fire destroyed the footage and killed the cast and crew at the wrap-party.  The film became a legend, but no footage was ever recovered … until Forest finds some footage.  And the trouble begins.

Night of the Ghoul #2 opens inside the film, “Night of the Ghoul,” in the scene explaining what “the Ghoul” is.  Later, World War I ends and Sgt. Kurt Powell of Eagle Company returns to America with his fellow soldier, Johnny.  However, something is wrong with Kurt, and when he is reunited with Alex, his young son, the boy recognizes it immediately.  Johnny and Alex also overhear two officers from the ship that brought them home discussing something quite unsettling.

Leaving the film, the story returns to the nursing home.  There, Merritt explains his fate since the destruction of his film.  He also forces Forest to admit that he knows more than he has let on to the old man.  What is “The Order of the Fly?”  Meanwhile, Orson is trying to escape from his father by leaving the old folks' home, but he is discovering a series of disturbing things about the place.

THE LOWDOWN:  Francavilla and Snyder continue to work as a single creative unit; at least, that is the sense I get when I read this hugely entertaining comic.  However, the star here is artist Francesco Francavilla, whose seamlessly transforms Synder's script into the kind of spooky, atmospheric comics that is his signature work – such as Afterlife with Archie and The Black Beetle.

On Page 14, Francavilla draws Orson descending a staircase at the old folks' home.  Shadows that look like bony fingers reach out towards him, and for me, that image recalls the late Edward Gorey's animations for the opening of the television series, “PBS Mystery!”  It is both beautiful and delightfully scary.

I am recommending Night of the Ghoul because it is the kind of horror comic book that makes me remember my earliest horror comics experiences – Charlton Comics and Warren Publishing.  As I said in my review of issue #1, this is the kind of comic book that gives me a reason to keep reading comic books.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Scott Snyder and of Francesco Francavilla will want to try Night of the Ghoul.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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